There are a lot of factors that influence tenderness, but that’s for another blog post and another time. Today’s fun fact is one of the easiest rules of thumb:
The most tender cuts of beef come from the least-exercised portion of the animal: the mid-section. Commonly called middle meats, these are the premium steaks, such as strip (top loin), T-Bone, Porterhouse, ribeye, rib and tenderloin.
The more exercise a muscles gets, the tougher the meat becomes. That’s why cuts from the round, chuck, flank steak and skirt steaks are naturally less tender — they’ve been worked a lot harder. (Of course that doesn’t mean you should avoid these cuts; it just means you have to prepare them a little differently. My easy flank steak marinade is a good example.)